This episode was so beautiful in its quiet tension. Nice Guy understands that it’s not always about the big moments, the grand reveals, the knock out punches of narrative oomph. Because we have spent 14 episodes getting to know Maru and Eun Gi, their pain and anxiety resonates with us even if it remains sitting there like a ticking time bomb. I don’t need Eun Gi to regain her memories right away, because watching her wrestle with the process shows us both Maru’s love for her, and her love for him. She struggles against truths that she knows is frightening, even as she consciously wants to step up and move forward because otherwise she is just standing in place while everyone around her hovers. I was shaking my head at Jae Hee’s insistence that Maru is motivated by pity for Eun Gi rather than love, and that love is only what Maru felt for Jae Hee.
I realize looking back that Maru’s greatest sacrifice for Jae Hee was taking the murder rap for her, which never risked his life but merely his future. Whereas with Eun Gi, from the moment he descended down the cliff to rescue her doll because he heard her heart and lips cry out for her omma, Maru has been risking his life for Eun Gi. He never wanted to die for Jae Hee, but he wanted to die with Eun Gi in that tunnel, and now I bet his hematoma isn’t getting treated because he needs to be around for Eun Gi. It’s not pity that motivates Maru, it was always a love that was real but impossible to accept because he still believed he loved only Jae Hee. Now that he’s able to love Eun Gi openly, I am content watching this drama just allow him to connect with her without any artifice, even knowing that all his past lies are indeed a bridge he will have to cross soon.
Episode 14 recap:
Maru finds Eun Gi outside the hospital and scolds her for just walking out and leaving him so worried. Eun Gi stares at him and shakes off his hand and jacket, demanding to know who he is? Maru is taken aback and then completely stunned when Eun Gi asks again who he is. He thinks she’s joking still but she keeps pushing him away from her.
We see Maru following Eun Gi as she walks around looking confused and scared. Meanwhile Secretary Hyun runs to see Eun Gi’s doctor to discuss her latest memory loss. Her doctor explains that this regression of even more memory loss is a sign that her memories are actually on the verge of coming back. Because those lost memories are so painful, she’s subconsciously blocking it now. The doctor says to treat this as part of the journey she must undertake to get all her memories back.
Maru follows Eun Gi from a distance until she almost gets hit by a car and he grabs her back. She asks rudely if he knows her?
Maru takes Eun Gi home and holds her hand to lead her upstairs to the room she shares with Choco. He brings her over to her desk where there is a framed picture of her and Maru from Aomori. Eun Gi stares at it and then throws it on the floor, yelling over and over that this is just a lie.
Her tantrum wakes up Choco and Maru tells his sister to leave as he tries to calm Eun Gi down.
Eun Gi keeps screaming “lies, lies” over and over and flailing around wildly. Maru grabs her tightly in an embrace to restrain her, and finally she collapses and he sinks to the ground still holding the now sleeping Eun Gi in his arms. He stares at her while she sleeps, cradling her tenderly in his arms. I love how this drama has so many parallels, which includes Maru watching Eun Gi sleep in many previous instances, and we see that is when he is most free to express his feelings.
Jae Hee sits at home drinking in the dark, thinking about how Maru pushed her aside roughly and told her to scram when Eun Gi had collapsed.
Choco goes to Jae Gil and they worry about Eun Gi’s situation. Morning dawns and we see that Jae Gil has slept on the floor while Choco slept on his sofa. Conversely, Maru spent the entire night holding the sleeping Eun Gi in his arms. Maru puts Eun Gi to bed and goes to wash up. Jae Gil informs Maru that Jae Hee is outside.
Choco stands outside the door and bars Jae Hee from entering, on orders of her oppa. Jae Hee says Choco grew up well and wonders why Choco thinks she’s the enemy. Choco calls her a betrayer who broke her brother’s heart and married the rich Chairman. Jae Hee should have gotten everything she wanted so why is she here?
Maru walks out and and Jae Hee says she got everything she wanted, but she’s not happy at all. Perhaps its because she has everything but she lost Maru. If she had Maru too then it would be perfect. Choco is gobsmacked at how grasping she is, scoffing to Maru that this is not the Jae Hee unni they knew at all, this is some mentally deranged ahjumma. Ahahaha. Love Choco’s bitch face towards Jae Hee. Choco tells him not to talk to her too long and quickly come inside.
Jae Hee says she is here to talk to Eun Gi. Maru sends Choco inside and then tells Jae Hee that he told her to scram already. Jae Hee pulls the step mom card and claims her rights to see Eun Gi. Maru pushes her against the wall and demands to know what Jae Hee said to Eun Gi to cause her such shock? Jae Hee didn’t say anything Eun Gi didn’t already know, who knew Eun Gi would be so weak she would collapse. He warns Jae Hee not to touch Eun Gi again, if she dares, then she will know just how much Kang Maru is capable of.
Jae Hee isn’t cowed and claims that she knows what Maru is really feeling. Pity is not love, guilt is not love. What Maru is doing now is trying to allay his conscience towards Eun Gi, but that is not love. Love is what Maru felt and did for Jae Hee before. That is love. Maru swallows and releases his hold on her neck. Jae Hee says she lost that love and regrets it immensely and will do anything to get it back now. She doesn’t know why Maru came back as Eun Gi’s fiancee and how he wants to take down Jae Hee, but she doesn’t dislike it. Truth be told, she is very happy that she can see him again. The world without him is boring and she doesn’t like it very much. She says goodbye and walks away, and Maru’s eyes flicker after she leaves.
Jae Hee drives home and calls lawyer Ahn, who confirms that Eun Gi’s medical records and CT scans were doctored to conceal the true extent of her brain injury. She also learns that Eun Gi’s treating physician is Maru’s old med school professor. She says to herself that she pities Eun Gi and promises to take care of her until Eun Gi dies. She won’t kick Eun Gi out without a dime, unlike what someone (the Chairman) intended to do to her. As long as Eun Gi knows her place, keeps pretending to be stupid and kind, then Jae Hee won’t have any reason to hate Eun Gi. It was her and Maru that caused Eun Gi’s life to turn out this way, Eun Gi is the ultimate victim. For that Jae Hee is sorry, she is genuinely sorry. Ugh, go DIAF you delusional bitch!
Eun Gi is awake and sits on the floor next to her bed. Maru blends her a fruit shake and brings it up to her. She tosses it aside and it spills on the floor. Maru smiles and goes downstairs and gets her a glass of milk instead. He brings it to her and she once again pushes it away and it spills on the floor.
Choco and Jae Gil watch this back and forth and Choco gets upset and Eun Gi so Jae Gil has to restrain her and tell her to leave Maru alone to deal with Eun Gi.
Maru brings another glass of milk and this time Eun Gi talks and tells him that she is not drinking it, doesn’t he understand her words. Maru vows to see who bends first – there is plenty of milk and fruit in the fridge, three markets nearby, and he has plenty of energy and time to keep offering food to her. When Maru moves to leave, Eun Gi suddenly grabs his pant leg and he stops and looks down and sees cuts on her hand from the glass shards.
Maru tends to Eun Gi’s cuts and she silently allows him. He asks what did Jae Hee tell her? He knows that she is full of anger and frustration and is just lashing out. He knows that she’s in pain because of him, because of her memories of him. If she is trying to conceal those memories and that is so hard to do, then he wants her to erase all her memories of him.
He wants her to rip him into shreds so she can stand up by herself again. He pulls her hand and puts it at her chest, telling her to stab him there with her pain so she doesn’t hurt anymore. Only then can he let go and disappear from her life.
Maru goes and brings another glass of milk for Eun Gi, but as he walks up he sees her sobbing next to the bed. He puts the milk on the table and walks away. As he gets to the bottom of the stairs and listens to her sobbing violently, suddenly his head hurts and he rushes to the bathroom to retch. We see Eun Gi sobbing and Maru throwing up, and OMG this is just so painful to see.
Afterwards, Maru sits in the bathroom even as night falls just in a daze, while Eun Gi has fallen asleep again, but we see that she’s drunk the milk.
The next morning, Maru is preparing breakfast when Eun Gi walks in as if nothing happened. She gently greets Maru and he returns her morning greeting. When asked if she slept well, Eun Gi felt like she just woke up from a very long weird dream. In her dream, the Maru is not like Maru now. He was a bad guy who used her, lied to her, and hurt her.
Maru pauses and then asks Eun Gi with a smile what she will do if when she recovers her memories she discovers that Maru really is bad like that? Eun Gi looks at him and says she won’t forgive him in that case, because she’s the kind of spiteful woman who would throw away her father and follow a man.
Maru laughs and she wonders why he’s chuckling. Maru says he’s relieved and tells Eun Gi not to forget what she said and not to go back on her word. He tells her with a smile to be strong and follow through with this when the time comes.
Eun Gi meets with Joon Ha and asks if they once had a conversation like this in a coffee shop about Maru. Joon Ha told her that Maru was the former lover of someone and was just using Eun Gi. She asks Joon Ha to tell her again what he said. Joon Ha acts like he never said that and suggests its just Eun Gi’s memories confusing her. Eun Gi vows to get all her memories back and not be scared of it.
Jae Hee meets with Maru and wants to make amends, apologizing for the corporate espionage charge and asking to get along going forward. Maru says he doesn’t care and doesn’t accept her apology. Jae Hee asks what kind of apology does he want, does he want her to kneel before him? She claims that she can kneel in front of him a thousand times if necessary. She moves to kneel and Maru stops her, pulling her up. Her joy disappears when Maru says she’s so revolting she makes him want to throw up.
Jae Hee and lawyer Ahn are discussing Maru and Jae Hee wants him on her side because she doesn’t want to give up Maru’s ability to someone else. She also wants to split up Maru and Eun Gi so that its easier to take down Eun Gi. Ewww, you gross grasping witch. Eun Gi goes to see Jae Hee and lawyer Ahn to announce that she is ready to return to work. Jae Hee hands her an assignment to discuss with a potential investor in the company over a development project that Eun Gi was handling before her accident.
Eun Gi sits with Secretary Hyun and Maru to discuss this project Jae Hee handed to her. Eun Gi reveals that she doesn’t remember this project at all so Secretary Hyun tries to help her cram now. Maru drives Eun Gi to the meeting and offers to go with her but she declines and goes by herself.
Eun Gi goes in and meets with a Chairman and she uses her memorized info about him (from Secretary Hyun) to praise his son’s marriage and future grandchild. The Chairman calls her a drunkard and storms out. Maru arrives too late to tell Eun Gi that she’s been set up. This Chairman is not the person Jae Hee told her she was seeing. This Chairman recently lost his only son to a car accident.
Jae Hee calls Eun Gi and informs her that she ruined the deal with Chairman Nam. Jae Hee asks Eun Gi why came back to Tae San? Is she here to ruin the company? Eun Gi says Jae Hee lied to her about who she was meeting, but she knows that her own memory loss contributed to it since she couldn’t recognize the Chairman herself.
Maru pulls the phone away from Eun Gi and tells her to stop talking to Jae Hee. Afterwards Jae Hee and lawyer Ahn gloat about how easily it will be to pass the vote to strip Eun Gi of her inheritance to run Tae San now that her mess up of this project is spreading like wildfire. Jae Hee asks if they need to give Eun Gi a farewell party, snarking that things that are so easy to accomplish isn’t any fun. I stab you, evil ho!
Maru and Eun Gi sit in the kitchen discussing what happened. Eun Gi is embarrassed and upset at herself for going and creating more problems. Maru tells her not to blame herself so much, things will get better slowly and her memories will come back slowly. He asks why she is in such a rush. Eun Gi wants to remember Maru as quickly as possible. Seeing how much Maru cherishes Seo Eun Gi, how much he loves her, she wants be able to remember it as quickly as possible. It’s sad that Eun Gi thinks her past with Maru was her happiest time, when we all know its the present when they are truly able to embrace each other without any reservation and hidden agendas.
But faced with so much she can’t do, Eun Gi says she ought to just give up now. She cries that she shouldn’t have come back. Maru watches Eun Gi so depressed and then later puts her in bed and watches over her.
The next morning, Maru wakes Eun Gi up and tells her to change because he’s taking her somewhere. Eun Gi reminds him that she wanted to give up but he says she doesn’t have the right to give up. First she has to regain her memories and take back Tae San, and afterwards she can throw Tae San away for all he cares.
Maru drives Eun Gi to the house of Chairman Nam and leaves her outside before driving away. The Chairman leaves for work and sees Eun Gi outside and ignores her.
Maru meets with Joon Ha at work and Joon Ha confirms that lawyer Ahn got the real medical records of Eun Gi and the other side knows everything and selected Eun Gi for that project knowing she will fail. Joon Ha asks what to do now that an open war is coming.
The Chairman comes home at night and sees Eun Gi still standing there. He ignores her and goes inside. We see Maru standing to the side looking at Eun Gi with concern. Jae Hee is flying high and goes home and offers to buy Eun Seok whatever he wants since she’s in such a good mood. All Eun Seok wants is his Eun Gi noona and that upsets Jae Hee. She sends Eun Seok off the bed and the poor kid cries and tells his mom that he hates her. Don’t we all, kid, don’t we all.
The Chairman finally comes out to see Eun Gi and shoo her away. Eun Gi apologizes for her gaffe with his dead son and reveals she’s suffering from memory loss and has been hiding this truth, so earlier she pretended to know him and said all those inadvertently painful things. The Chairman says he still won’t invest with the company since he can’t trust that she can run the company. Eun Gi trusts that she will recover and she is taking the risk that Chairman Nam will reveal her condition to the world. Eun Gi keeps apologizing. Maru watches this sadly. Eun Gi goes home and sits on her bed.
The next morning, Jae Hee gets a call from Chairman Nam who informs her that he is willing to discuss the investment project again, but only if Director Seo is leading it. In your face, Jae Hee! She hangs up the phone and tells lawyer Ahn to call a meeting of the Board now, she wants to reveal everything about Eun Gi’s currently situation.
At the Board meeting, Jae Hee starts to present her proposal when she suddenly gets a note which reads “let’s discuss your plan to murder Seo Eun Gi…..” She excuses herself mid-meeting and walks outside to see Maru and Jae Shik happily chatting in the hallway. Jae Shik, I missed you! You amoral douchebag, you! Jae Shik pats Maru on the arm and says they are brothers.
Jae Shik saunters over to Jae Hee and greets his sister, telling her that he told Maru everything about what Jae Hee is doing to Eun Gi. He then warns her that he’ll reveal how she ordered him to make sure Seo Eun Gi disappeared forever, and also that he knows Maru took a murder rap for her. Jae Shik reveals that Maru promised to set him up for life if he walks into the conference and reveals Jae Hee tried to get rid of Eun Gi. Even though Jae Shik doesn’t like Maru much either, at least he keeps his word unlike Jae Hee. Compared to Jae Hee, at least Maru has a conscience still. Jae Hee turns and stares at Maru, who returns her gaze without wavering. It’s battle on, baby!
Jae Hee returns to the meeting and instead of her original proposal, she announces that she’s making Eun Gi the new Chairman of the company. Maru walks into the meeting and stares at Jae Hee as she walks over to shake Eun Gi’s hand in her typical fake-ass way. She glares at Maru and he smirks a bit, before his smile disappears into a cold steely gaze. Man, this guy can freeze an inferno OR melt a floating ice chunk depending on his mood.
Thoughts of Mine:
Unless Nice Guy turns into a blubbering mess of epic proportions for the remaining six-episodes, this drama is the front runner for best drama of the year for me. Best in everything – directing, writing, acting, OTP, everything. Best isn’t perfect, but it’s damn near incredibly strung together in every way. Even a slow set of episodes this week doesn’t slow down how emotionally stirring it is to watch this drama. I’m not always happy with what I see, but it’s so satisfying anyway. For once I’m not grumbling about the lack of making out and OTP happy times, because if we had that it would be so awkward and pointless for this drama. This is a story about desire and redemption, where love is an emotion that isn’t always pure because it can cause so much pain, but it’s an emotion that cannot be ignored and discounted when it happens. I know Eun Gi and Maru love each other, I don’t need to see them kiss or roll in the sack to confirm it. They know it, but there is so much more beyond that. Their love is expressed in how he holds her all night in his arms, watching the exhausted her sleep in his arms. Their love is revealed in how she pushes him away yet clings on to him, her heart and her mind at war over this man who haunts her soul even if she has no memories.
It took awhile for Lee Kyung Hee’s writing in Nice Guy to really show hand, and we’re probably not seeing the extent of how well-mapped out this entire narrative is. Eun Gi falling for Maru felt so inexplicable and fast, Maru’s obsession with Jae Hee came across as so pathetic and full of self-loathing, Jae Hee’s grasping ambition was like that of any gold digger who has a desperate childhood now wanting financial security above all else. But when the curtail is pulled apart further, when we are allowed to see beyond the surface, the complexity becomes evident and we’re forced to accept the limitations of all these characters. Jae Hee can desire both Tae San and Maru, she can want to co-exist with Eun Gi but still work to solidify her own position. Maru is capable of excommunicating Jae Hee from his life thoroughly and completely, even if the ending requires that he go down in flames and take her with him to protect Eun Gi. In essence, he may still be the jackal and the coyote tumbling down the cliff together, but the reasons have become vastly different. Initially he wanted to die because he lost Jae Hee, now he wants to live because of Eun Gi but he may end up dying anyways because his ties with Jae Hee will never be severed even if his love for her is dead. Eun Gi is just as flawed as the other two, loving Maru not necessarily something that redeems her broken childhood or makes her a more complete person. But it gives her life an emotional anchor when before there was none, so losing him (and her dad) made her snap, and regaining the memory of that schism is like walking into the lion’s den. I don’t blame her for being so torn and tormented.
I’m now loving the roles of all the secondary characters, from no-nonsense Secretary Hyun, devoted and sacrificing Joon Ha, to plucky sister Choco, to exposition master Jae Gil, and finally even lawyer Ahn has won me over with his combination of smarmy maneuvering. But its Jae Shik who really stands out as the scene-stealing slime bucket who spices up the proceedings, always showing up to toss a wrench in Jae Hee’s plans or conversely to work as the grubby Orc that brings Maru and Eun Gi closer together. He’s awesome in his unabashed awfulness, and if Jae Hee was even a smidge more sympathetic a character, I’d feel bad that she has this monster for a brother. But alas, she’s no better than him, and for that, I’m thrilled Maru enlists her nemesis in his battle on behalf of Eun Gi. I’m sure the ending will have things put to rights, but it’s the journey there that hurts my heart so much to watch. When Maru held Eun Gi through the night, I was sobbing like a loony because of his tenderness and love for her just shining in his eyes. When he tended to her cuts and told her to lash out at him, I wanted to just whisk them away to a happy place to live out the rest of their lives. When he sat in that bathroom while she cried herself to sleep, I just knew that the depth of their despair was due to their undeniable love for each other, a love that has brought them both happiness and pain in the past. Jae Hee is wrong that Maru has only ever loved her and his feelings for Eun Gi are pity. His words to the prosecutor tells us exactly what Eun Gi means to him now – she is his reason to live when he once only wanted to die.